Early this morning in the House of Representatives, Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon made a statement recognizing Puerto Rico’s one hundredth anniversary of U.S. citizenship.
“I would like to seek equality for millions of citizens living in Puerto Rico,” she began. “I am the sole representative for the island and I represent more constituents in my district than anyone in this house. I rise today to honor the 100th anniversary of the enactment of the Jones Act, which conferred American citizenship on Puerto Ricans on this day in 1917.”
Gonzalez-Colon continued by referencing Puerto Rico’s strong record of military service and support for statehood on the island. “Since [the conferring of U.S. citizenship], more than 20,000 veterans have served proudly in the U.S. military where they are equal in war but not in peace. That’s why I stand with the will of the people of Puerto Rico to incorporate to the United States as the 51st state of the union as requested in the 2012 plebiscite by 61% of the votes.”
As a representative of a U.S. territory, Gonzalez-Colon may offer remarks in the House of Representatives, but she lacks the power to cast a vote on final legislation. This situation handicaps Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner in negotiations with other members of Congress and disadvantages the U.S. territory in federal programs and policies. It also creates a fundamental inconsistency within the democratic structure of the United States, which is premised upon providing U.S. citizens a say in the laws that they must follow.
“Let this House fulfill the promise that the United States of America is a nation for liberty and justice for all of us,” she concluded.